Spurs vs Aston Villa
Andre Villas-Boas masterminded our first win in 23 years at Old Trafford last weekend, making us undefeated since opening day. After a semi-successful trip to Athens in the Europa league, we return home for Spurs vs Aston Villa.
The Villains have had an up and down season so far as they become accustomed to life under Paul Lambert. Whilst they’ve picked up four points from their matches at Villa Park, they have only a single point to show from their travels.
Can Spurs continue their streak of good Premier League form under Andre Villas-Boas or will the Villains steal the points?
Here are my 5 keys to Spurs vs Aston Villa.
1. Spurs vs Aston Villa shots on target
Spurs started off the season by taking a vast number of shots, 65% in fact, from outside the box and were consequently missing the target. Since the trip to Reading we are starting to generate more chances in the penalty area and our goals, as well as shots hitting the target, have both increased.
Right now in the Premier League, we are currently getting 50% of our 17.5 shots per game from inside the penalty area.
This sees us ranked second in the Premier League for shots per game with 17.5 efforts at the goal and fourth in accuracy with 6 hitting the target.
The reason I bring this up is two-fold.
Firstly, Aston Villa are decidedly average in their shots per game so far this season. The Villains have taken 13.8 shots per match, which sees them ranked eleventh in the Premier League. However, only 3.7 are on target, which sees only Stoke, Wigan, Reading, Sunderland and surprisingly Newcastle, hitting the target less than Villa each match.
Secondly, as Aston Villa are conceding the fourth most shots from outside the box this season with 39 – Fulham lead the way with 45. This is because they are forcing teams to shoot from outside, having conceded only 49 shots from inside the box, which is less than high flyers like West Brom, Newcastle and also Man Utd.
Aston Villa will try and sit deep, forcing us to shoot from outside, we cannot let that happen otherwise another draw, or even a defeat, could be on the cards.
2. Spurs vs Aston Villa interceptions
As noted before, Aston Villa try to get teams to shoot from outside. In order to get high quality shots, Spurs will need to pass the ball accurately as the Villains look to steal possession through intercepting and breaking from deep.
Against Southampton in their last away match Aston Villa intercepted the ball on 24 occasions, mostly deep in their own half of the field.
In their previous away encounter up at St. James’s Park, they intercepted the ball 16 times, with all except two being in the their own half of the field.
Overall, Aston Villa have averaged 15 interceptions per match this season, seeing them as one of the best sides at swiping the ball in the Premier League.
Spurs went in to the match with Man Utd with an 86% success rate for passing, but that has sunk to 84% after the Old Trafford win.
We’ll have to get back to playing the accurate passes if we’re to open up the Aston Villa defence that’ll want us to shoot from outside the 18-yard area.
3. Villa vulnerable down the middle
Aston Villa have been vulnerable to conceding chances through the middle in recent matches.
Southampton were able to create a number of chances with short passes on the edge of the box, including one slid through for a goal.
West Brom last week were also able to create several chances just outside the area from central positions.
The Villains have given up 23 chances through the middle so far this season, which sees them as the sixth worst culprit for giving up opportunities in this area.
Jermain Defoe should be looking to prosper from passes slid through the defence.
4. Bent and Benteke
Darren Bent will be looking to get one over on us and is Aston Villa’s top scorer with two goals. The main threat may come from Christian Benteke though, with the young Belgian proving a handful for opposition defences so far.
Against Sunderland, the Belgian was the focus for long balls from the back and goalkeeper Brad Guzan, whilst also receiving the ball to hold it up outside the box.
At home to West Brom last week, he was the focus of the long ball from the back and passes in to feet outside the box once more.
He is not just a target and hold up man though, getting three shots versus Southampton and six against West Brom. A number of these were from corners where his aerial power is a threat, whereas on the deck his shot selection has been dubious.
Spurs will need to guard against Benteke after we had problems when another big Belgian, Romelu Lukaku, when West Brom came to the Lane.
5. Villa attack through their right side
Aston Villa like to attack from their right side and so far this season they’ve launched 39% of their forays forward down this flank according to WhoScored.com.
With the Villains going so often down this side of the pitch, we can see the skew this had on their average positions in their last match with West Brom.
Matthew Lowton (34) is very keen to get forward from right back, as was Marc Albrighton (12) from his right midfield position. Brett Holman (14) also comes across the field to help out this side from his starting position on the left.
If we take a look at Marc Albrighton and Matthew Lowton in more detail, we can see how Albrighton was playing narrow and coming inside while Lowton overlapped.
This was Albrighton’s first Premier League game of the season; Brett Holman has started out on the right in previous matches. We can see how he migrates across the pitch to get involved on this right side just outside the area to create overloads in this zone.
Spurs should have the solid Jan Vertonghen at left back to cope with this, but Gareth Bale will need to help out should Villa look to get all three players in this area.
Spurs vs Aston Villa conclusions
After a long trip to Greece and a tough game in energy-sapping heat, Spurs will need to start well in this one. After our last Europa League match against Lazio, we struggled out the gate at home to QPR, even though the formation wasn’t right.
Aston Villa will look to attack us down the right side and we have to be wary of Brett Holman creating overloads in advanced areas to allow Marc Albrighton and Matthew Lowton to get forward.
Christian Benteke could prove a real handful if he starts, but Steven Caulker would be a good choice to match up on him to nullify his aerial advantage.
This is a game we should win, but may make hard work of if Villa force us to shoot from range.
Spurs vs Aston Villa prediction: Spurs 2 Aston Villa 1